INGLEWOOD, Calif. (November 12, 2011)—Less than a month after defeating maidens at Santa Anita, Liaison stretched out successfully in his stakes debut, winning the $100,000 Real Quiet Saturday at Hollywood Park.
Never too far off the pace while racing in the clear under jockey Rafael Bejarano, the 2-year-old Indian Charlie colt challenged for the lead with about a quarter of a mile to go, took over from pacesetter Senor Rain with a furlong remaining, then withstood the late rally of Rousing Sermon to prevail by a half-length.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher LLC and trained by Bob Baffert, Liaison, the 4-5 favorite, completed the 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track in 1:44.72. Out of the Victory Gallop mare Galloping Gal, Liaison is now 2-for-3 with earnings of $94,560.
A $290,000 purchase at the Keeneland September sale in 2010, Liaison returned $3.80, $2.60 and $2.20.
Two weeks removed from a decisive victory in the California Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in his first outing beyond six furlongs, Rousing Sermon finished well to gain the place. He paid $3.60 and $2.40 while winding up 3 ¾ lengths clear of Senor Rain.
Trying to give trainer Peter Miller and co-owner Gary Barber their second consecutive win in the Real Quiet – they had scored with Comma to the Top a year ago – Senor Rain set a moderate pace under jockey Martin Garcia, then couldn’t contain the top two late. The show price on the Indiana bred was $3.60.
“Liaison is just getting better and better,’’ said Baffert, who also won the Yo Eleven Stakes Friday night with 16-1 shot Racing Aptitude. “It’s good to win the Real Quiet. He’s been working well since Del Mar, but he’s just never showed a lot of speed for an Indian Charlie.
“He’s got just enough speed to keep him in the race. He’s still green, but he worked real well here (a half mile in 47 4/5 Nov. 8).
“(Rousing Sermon) looked like he was going to run right by him, but when he got to him my horse just kicked in again. That’s what you want to see right now.’’
Liaison is one of a handful of candidates Baffert has for the $750,000-guaranteed CashCall Futurity Dec. 17, a race the Hall of Fame trainer has won a record five times.
“(First out maiden winner) So Brilliant is going to run in the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (Nov. 24) and I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with (Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint winner) Secret Circle. We could have four starters in the race, or three, two, one or none. This is the time to develop them.’’
Jockey Martin Pedroza escaped serious injury after being unseated in Saturday’s fourth race.
Pedroza was riding Carol’s Legacy in the maiden race and the 2-year-old Langfuhr colt was well clear of the field and on his way to an apparent victory before he ducked sharply into the rail.
The veteran rider got up under his own power not long after the incident and returned to ride his next two mounts. He did not ride Studio City in the ninth race due to some stiffness, but is expected to return Sunday.
The feature attraction Sunday – post time is 12:30 p.m. – is the $100,000 Sharp Cat Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles over Cushion Track. The Sharp Cat is the seventh of nine races.
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